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Afro-Italian Director Tells True Story of Renaissance’s Black Duke Of Florence Il Moro - The Moor

Reported by Kimberly Porter | IL MORO - THE MOOR | Image: Green Light Project


It is time for the New York premiere of the award winning short film Il Moro - The Moor, which shines a spotlight on the unknown first Duke of Florence in Renaissance Italy, Alessandro de’ Medici. Part of the prestigious Medici family, this figure is mostly overlooked in historical accounts and only recent research from international scholars have started highlighting his interesting background. Duke Alessandro, who was officially known as the illegitimate son of Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici, is more likely to be son to another more famous Medici, Pope Clement VII. His mother was reported as a Moor in service in House Medici.

Despite much controversy, Alessandro’s African ancestry has been featured in an exhibition at the Uffizi Museum in Florence and by a number of publications, including Black Africans in Renaissance Europe published by the Cambridge University Press.

Already nominated Best Short Film at the Italian Black Movie Awards, the short which earned Di Cinto the Cultured Focus Magazine Visionary in Film Award during the 79th Venice Film Festival, will have its New York premiere on October 28th at Urbanworld Film Festival.

Di Cinto’s work has also been included in the Women in Italian Cinema Project, sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Culture and headed by film critic and producer Angela Prudenzi. The project will host the panel “Women equality in the Film Industry: Italian and American experiences” held October 28th at NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo, with Di Cinto being one of the panelists.

Daphne Di Cinto's Il Moro - The Moor brings us an enchanting visual of this lesser-known historical figure and not just because of the astonishing resemblance between the portrait of the Duke and lead actor Alberto Boubakar Malanchino, starring alongside veteran Italian actor Paolo Sassanelli in the role of Pope Clement VII.

Through stunning imagery and intriguing dialogue Il Moro - The Moor fuses past and present, enveloping the audience with a soundtrack that is both classical and soulful, through a directorial style praised as “precise and conscious”. Di Cinto, who many recognise from her role as mother of another well known Duke in Netflix's Bridgerton, is very vocal about the need to foster representation on both sides of the camera and despite Il Moro being her directorial debut, the short film's cast and crew are a beautiful glimpse of Italy’s current diversity. Alongside newcomer Andrea Melis, and more established Balkissa Maiga, the film features Italy’s Got Talent’s Lorenzo Tronconi in his debut acting role and the powerful voice of singer/content creator Loretta Grace in a soundtrack created by The Niro.

Di Cinto explains: "Il Moro was born of a stunned moment of realization: it wasn't true that as an Italian of African descent I didn't exist in the history of my country, as the education system instructs when doing the very important job of forming the identity and cultural awareness of the next generations. Alessandro de' Medici, the first Duke of Renaissance Florence was of African descent. To this day, his tomb in Florence doesn't bear his name, despite mentioning the names of the rest of the Medicis who are buried there. Isn't this the definition of erasure of memory?”

Still a relevant story today, the short film invites us to reflect on themes of belonging, identity, family and the use of power and manipulation, even more so after Italy's recent election results.

Di Cinto continues: “Alessandro was considered "less than". He was described as uneducated, unrefined and ugly every time he was compared to his cousin Ippolito. It's a striking parallelism to the experience of today’s Afropeans. Today, it’s related to skin color, back then it was about his ‘low birth’ – it still has the same name: discrimination. With the difference that as humans we may have taken a few steps back if today we have to fight racism, while in the 1500s people weren't judged by their skin tones. "

Following are the synopsis and screening times of Il Moro - The Moor.

Synopsis: Based on true events

Circa 1529: There are three illegitimate men at the head of House Medici: Pope Clement VII, Alessandro de' Medici and Ippolito de' Medici. However, Alessandro is aware that he is the family's plan B. His cousin Ippolito seems like the perfect option as the future leader of Florence, while he carries around the stigma of being “just the son of a slave". Unexpectedly, a decision from the Pope changes the boys’ destinies and pits the two cousins against each other. Alessandro, forced to question his place, roots and identity, discovers the truth about his parents. Will he be able to fend off Ippolito's attacks and demonstrate that his ‘low birth’ can go hand in hand with being the first Duke of Florence?

· Urbanworld Screening: Il Moro - The Moor

Friday - October 28th, 2022

Short Film Program 4, Cinépolis Chelsea - 5:15 PM 260 W 23rd Street, Theatre 9 New York, NY 10011

· Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò: “Women equality in the Film Industry: Italian and American experiences” Panel Discussion

Women in Italian Cinema - An Inclusive Project Friday October 28th, 2022 – 6:15 pm

Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò New York University

24 West 12th Street New York, NY 10011

Director Daphne Di Cinto will be in New York from October 20th through November 3rd, 2022. Please let us know if you are interested in interviewing her and this can be arranged.

See the latest director interview on The Hollywood


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